"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Dinosaur Comes to Troy

While we're on the topic of Troy, check out this interview I did for KFP magazine with the manager of Dinosaur BBQ in the weeks before their grand opening...

 For the families that live in downtown Troy, the city can be a bit of a mixed bag. Though the gorgeous architectural examples of its glory days are abundant, many of them are sadly also abandoned, run down, or otherwise left to collect dust. The revitalization of Troy is forty years in the making now, and examples of urban renewal come and go with the passage of time.

The building that many of us young families knew as Fresno’s on the River has sat empty for several years now, its patio silent as it looked out over the waters of the Hudson, leaving us with nothing but memories of having drank and dined there with friends when we were younger. But then in the summer of 2009, the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que stomped in on its t-rex legs with a big plan. They were going to open their fourth location in that old building, bringing the quiet bend in River Street back up to speed.
I had the opportunity to visit the restaurant in the scramble before their grand opening on November 9th. General Manager Brian Lomnicki sat down with me to talk about the food, the location, and the unique aspect of the building renovations.
Though the whole mess started with a 55-gallon drum cut in half at the Harley Rendezvous in Mariaville, it’s clear that the vision has far exceeded those humble origins. Though there are now four locations across the state of New York, the building in Troy brings something a little more special. It isn’t just the gorgeous view of the river that sets it apart. “This bar is made of old beams from our Harlem location,” Brian tells me, gesturing to the long slab of wood, burned in with kitchy tattoo motifs. “And the backdrop [behind it] was reclaimed from a hotel in Buffalo, it’s from the 1800’s.”
The bar isn’t the only thing that was reclaimed, however. From the wide plank flooring, still sporting its old paint, to the metalwork and antique leaded stained glass windows that hang and work as decorative dividers, there are few things in the restaurant that weren’t rescued from New York scrapyards by the owner himself. The building is a bit of an altar to the recycled, everything hand-picked by the owner, who, Brian says, loves to get dirty and get involved.
And the atmosphere is nothing to spit a bone out at, either. The loud, funky, eclectic energy is great for kids, especially, Brian tells me, teenagers. “We have live music here three times a week, and out on the patio during the warmer months. We showcase local bands.” If parents wanted to encourage a safe gig to let their kids meet their friends, have a soda and rock out, this is the way to do it; while mom and dad are sitting just far away enough to strike that perfect balance between independence and safety.

While mom and dad are enjoying the 25 brews on tap, including those from such local breweries as Brown’s and Ommegang, the kids can appreciate the Saranac Root Beer that they keep on tap as well; an easy way for them to feel a little grown up. 
“Families love coming here because it’s out of the ordinary. It’s really the only place where they can eat with bikers, who are eating with businessmen in suits, who are eating with grandma and grandpa. Everyone’s here for the same reason. Good food.”
And what about the name? I had to know. “It’s about the size of the portions.” Another employee tells me with a laugh. “You know at the beginning of The Flintstones when Fred orders that rack of ribs that’s the size of his car? It’s that caveman mentality, just eating the meat right off the bones.”

Originally written for Kids Fun Plaza magazine on 11/2010. Yes, I own my content.

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